Washington Nationals: In Or Out On Carl Pavano?

Former Major League executive Jim Duquette discussed the role Carl Pavano played as part of the Minnesota Twins' rotation last season in a recent MLB.com video on possible destinations for the free agent pitcher. At the time the segment was filmed, Zack Greinke had yet to be traded to Milwaukee, so the MLB analyst suggested Pavano, who's played each of the last two seasons in the American League with Cleveland and then the Twins after four years with the Yankees, could benefit from a move to the National League if he didn't return to Minnesota, and could help to, "stabilize a young staff," like the Brewers' or Nats', as a, "middle of the rotation starter." With Greinke going to Milwaukee in a trade with Kansas City, the Brewers dropped out of the market for the soon-to-be 35-year-old right-hander, but the Twins and Nationals are reportedly still interested in the 12-year MLB veteran who's said to be seeking a 3-year deal. 

MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported Saturday in an article entitled, "Nats remain in mix as Pavano decision nears", that the right-hander, "...will most likely make a decision on his destination after the Christmas holiday," with just the Twins and Nats mentioned as possibilities. The Nats, in their search for a top of the rotation arm, made attempts to sign Cliff Lee and Jorge De La Rosa this Winter, and tried to trade for Greinke, with talk of Tampa Bay Rays' righty Matt Garza also being explored as a possibility. When D.C. GM Mike Rizzo was asked about the talent already in the Nats' organization back in early November interview, however, he listed five pitchers who figure to fill out the Washington rotation should they fail to sign or trade for a new arm: Jordan Zimmermann, Yunesky Maya, Livan Hernandez, John Lannan and Jason Marquis

When Marquis was signed to a two-year deal last Winter, he told the D.C. press corps, as recounted in another article by MLB.com's Bill Ladson entitled, "Marquis eager to help Nationals improve", that he felt the Nats needed, "...a few more [people with a veteran presence], [to] bring a winning attitude, and pass down lessons they have learned from each team they have played on." When Livan Hernandez was extended for another year in August, Nationals' General Manager Mike Rizzo told Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "Livan Hernandez gets contract extension", that the veteran right-hander was valuable as, "a cornerstone and a leader of the pitching rotation." Marquis' contract was for two years and he spent the majority of his first year in Washington on the DL following elbow surgery, Hernandez will turn 36 this February.

With both still on the Nats' roster this year, does Pavano make sense for the Nats in 2011? How about 2012? Will Livan Hernandez be back with Washington? Jason Marquis? Could Pavano fit into the middle of the rotation behind Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg in 2012...and 2013 if he gets the three-year deal he's reportedly looking for on the free agent market? Is it even worth considering?

FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, in an article two weeks back entitled, "King Felix should be untouchable", said that Pavano was looking for a 3-year deal worth $10-$11 million per, but sources told him the Nats were only willing to offer a two-year deal, while his colleague FOXSports.com's Jon Morosi wrote in an MLB Buzz post entitled, "After Greinke deal, Pavano-Twins reunion more likely", that Minnesota, having missed out on Greinke as well, now had a, "a desperate need for rotation help," and word all along has Pavano interested in returning to the Twin Cities after exploring all available options. Will Pavano leave the defending AL Central champs for the still-building Nationals? Does signing a soon-to-be-35-year-old veteran to a 3-year deal make sense for the Nats, who already have two veteran arms inked for 2011? One more Hot Stove mystery should be resolved soon...

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